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Significant Digits For Monday, Dec. 4, 2017

You’re reading Significant Digits, a daily digest of the numbers tucked inside the news.

Factor of 10

New research suggests that the official count of deaths related to Hurricane Maria in Puerto Rico may be considerably higher than the official estimates. Using monthly death records, researchers observed that September 2017 — when 2,838 people died — was a considerable outlier when looking at the average monthly deaths in Puerto Rico — 455 deaths above average. The official figure at the time the preprint was written was 55 deaths due to the storm. [Simply Stats]

227 pounds of bologna

A woman crossing through the Paso Del Norte border crossing in Texas told a Customs and Border Protection officer that she was not carrying any fruits or vegetables or meat. This statement was later shown to be mildly inaccurate as she was smuggling 227 pounds of Mexican bologna across the border. She was hit with a $1,000 fine. [CBS 4 Local]

500+ waivers

Marijuana is legal in many states now, and some of those people who indulge in the legal drug may eventually want to join the Army. The number of waivers issued for marijuana use among recruits was more than 500 in 2017, up from 191 in 2016 and zero three years ago. In total, almost 69,000 people joined the Army this year, and about 8,000 needed a waiver of some kind to sign up. [PBS]


Ford is suing John Cena for selling a Ford car. Basically, Cena was one of 500 people who got to buy the Ford GT supercar for upwards of $450,000. Cena took lots of video in the car and then sold it less than a month later. However, when he bought the car Cena signed a thing saying he would not sell the car for 24 months. He is being sued by the automaker in the U.S. District Court in Michigan for breach of contract and other claims. [Jalopnik]

491,200 RVs

Forecasted wholesale RV shipments in 2018, the highest number of recreational vehicles sold in a given year going back to the late seventies. The business has been on a tear since the depths of the recession — the RV business is sensitive to both housing and gas prices — and 2017 is the eighth year of rising sales. [The Wall Street Journal]

$7.4 million

A forfeiture submission was filed in Brooklyn federal court Thursday asking a judge to seize $7.4 million of Martin Shkreli’s assets. Shkreli, you may recall, is in prison awaiting sentencing on securities fraud charges, and gained notoriety both for jacking up the price of a life-saving drug from $13.50 to $750 per pill when he was a pharmaceutical executive and also buying the only existing copy of a Wu-Tang album “Once Upon a Time in Shaolin.” The government wants the album and other assets to make up for his criminal conduct. [BuzzFeed]

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If you see a significant digit in the wild, send it to @WaltHickey.

Walt Hickey was FiveThirtyEight’s chief culture writer.